|The Veloster Turbo now has enough power to match its sporty looks. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
The Hyundai Veloster is a very interesting vehicle to say the least, and it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure. It’s got three doors: one on the driver’s side, like a coupe, and two on the passenger’s side, like a sedan. It’s got a very usable backseat, too and a good amount of cargo space. It looks sporty, futuristic, and avant garde. It’s definitely unique.
Unfortunately, the standard 1.6-liter engine—the same as found in the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio—doesn’t match up to Veloster’s sporting looks. Frugal? Yes. Fast? Not so much. However, Hyundai also offers the Veloster with a turbocharger for 2013. It’s still powered by a direct-injected 1.6 liter mill, but the turbo brings power up to 201 hp, which is 36 horses more than the non-turbo 1.6. The turbo mill also cranks out 72 ft/lbs. more torque. And while it’s not the most refined sounding engine in the world, it does generate ample power under foot.
|Handling is the Veloster Turbo's forte. The ride is stiff, but not uncomfortable. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
For me, the car’s highlight was its handling, which was better than expected. Turn-in was good and cornering was flat and controlled. It’s a pleasure to drive enthusiastically in the corners. The ride is a bit stiff, but it is a sporty car. It certainly cruises easily enough on the highway, too and is comfortable enough on longer trips. Again, I just wish it had a bit more exhaust note.
What most people will agree on, however, is the car’s interior. It is impressively styled and has a great combination of sporty and comfortable. This Turbo model had leather, an impressive sound system, Blue Link service, and trip computer. It’s quite futuristic, too, and has a big, wonderful moonroof. And although much of the interior features forward styling, it still remained mostly intuitive. Plus, there’s tech aplenty, too. From all the Blue Link connectivity you’d ever want, to a big touchscreen LCD display, a reverse camera, and the list goes on. On top of it, the back seat is actually usable, and there’s enough cargo space for a couple of smaller suitcases. It’s a modern, techie wonderland inside the Veloster—a very good place to spend time, even if you’re in the back seats. Our only noteworthy concerns were the silver-painted interior grab/door handles that might scratch over time, and exterior visibility is below average.
Although the car is mostly positive, the sum of the parts still isn’t as exciting as one might hope. Plus, at more than $26,000, you’re now smack-dab into Volkswagen GTI territory, which is at the top of the heap with regards to driving dynamics and upscale feel. It’s also a competitor with the MINI Cooper S, the Civic Si, and perhaps even the Fiat 500 Abarth. Compared to this Korean make, the others offer perhaps a bit more driving dynamics, but you will likely pay more to maintain the Euros; and the Civic doesn’t have a turbo (although it makes the same amount of power and has a limited slip differential). One thing the Veloster does have, however, is fuel economy. With the automatic, this car is rated at 25 city and 34 highway (29 combined) on regular gasoline—something none of the above rivals can do.
|The Veloster Turbo has a unique shape, but it works. I love the center-exit exhaust treatment. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
Photos by Curtis Reesor